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Eagle Vision presents
Toto: Live in Amsterdam (2003)

"Not quite a year since she went away,
Rosanna, yeah,
Now she's gone and I have to say,
Meet you all the way,
Meet you all the way,
Rosanna..."

- Toto, from the song "Rosanna"

Review By: David Krauss   
Published: November 05, 2003

Stars: Steve Lukather, Mike Porcaro, Simon Phillips, Bobby Kimball, David Paich
Director: Aubrey Powell

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (brief nudity, language in special material)
Run Time: 01h:43m:40s
Release Date: September 23, 2003
UPC: 801213004096
Genre: rock


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C B-BA D

DVD Review

For a brief time, during the early 1980s, Toto ruled. With hits such as "Hold the Line," "Africa," "I Won't Hold You Back," and, of course, "Rosanna," the pop-rock quintet snared plenty of radio airtime and a gaggle of 1982 Grammys. Critics, however, cried foul, citing the awards as proof of the recording academy's penchant for honoring synthetic pop over its more edgy, artistic competition. Toto brushed off the barbs, and when the tempest died down, the group continued peddling its mainstream, synthesizer infused sound for another two decades. Despite some personnel changes (and the tragic death of drummer Jeff Porcaro), the heart and soul of Toto has remained rock solid.

The band's current incarnation—guitarist Steve Lukather, bassist Mike Porcaro, drummer Simon Phillips, keyboardist David Paich and lead vocalist Bobby Kimball—gathered in Amsterdam recently for a celebratory 25th anniversary concert. Unfortunately, the resulting DVD, Toto—Live in Amsterdam, reminds us why the band hasn't produced any real hits since its '80s heyday. For while each member of the group is an accomplished individual musician, together they lack the necessary energy, presence and pizzazz to maintain audience interest. On stage, Toto resembles a bunch of regular, forty-something joes jamming in a suburban garage, waiting for one of their wives to pass out Twinkies and Budweiser. Such informality and simplicity is refreshing—especially in this day and age of overblown extravaganzas—but can't sustain a 103-minute concert. More emotion, more audience contact and, yes, more hits are needed for this DVD to appeal to anyone except the Toto faithful.

The group's tight harmonies still shine, and the instrumental interludes show off the band's considerable skill, but it's the vocals that drive the songs, and the guys can't always meet the material's demands. Age has lowered vocal registers, robbing Toto's signature songs of the passion they once possessed. Kimball still flaunts a healthy set of pipes and enviable upper register, but toward the end of the concert the strain begins to show and a strident roughness (bordering on shouting) creeps into his delivery. Paich's weak lead vocal sadly sucks the life out of "Africa," while, in the concert's most disappointing moment, Lukather abandons the climactic high notes of the beautiful, melodic "I Won't Hold You Back," imploring the audience to take over instead. Such hits are Toto's bread and butter, and their lackluster treatment here sours the mood.

As a filmed concert, Toto: Live in Amsterdam is mediocre at best. Director Aubrey Powell dutifully executes all the familiar camera angles, pans, and sweeps we've come to expect from concert videos, but in a mechanical, autopilot fashion. The stage, draped with a simple black backdrop, lacks interest as well, and the amateur lighting effects consist of nothing but a few tinted filters.

So it's up to Toto to juice up the atmosphere, but the band's repetitive musical arrangements and static performances test, and eventually try, viewer patience. I heartily congratulate Toto on its 25-year history; I just wish the guys could have worked up more enthusiasm for the celebration.

Medley: Girl Goodbye, Goodbye Elenore, Child's Anthem, I'll Supply the Love
Gift With a Golden Gun
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Bodhisattva
Africa

Medley: Waiting for Your Love, Georgy Porgy, Lion, Hydra, English Eyes, Till the End
I Won't Hold You Back
Rosanna
Afraid of Love
Hold the Line
Next to You
Home of the Brave
White Sister



Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The packaging hypes high-definition video, but Eagle Vision's transfer doesn't deliver anything close to that degree of clarity. Clean source material and vibrant colors make the disc easy on the eyes, but soft focusing and mild grain give the picture a slight fuzzy quality that I found annoying. The heavily patterned shirts of Lukather, Kimball, and Porcaro also exhibit frequent shimmering. On the whole, not a bad transfer, but when I see high-definition on the box, I expect more than what's presented here.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes
DTSEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: For the most lifelike audio representation of the concert, the DTS track is the only viable option. Crisp, pure and consistently enveloping, the sound sweeps across all five speakers with plenty of isolated detail in each channel. Even the applause features distinct directionality and makes the viewer feel a part of the show. The bass frequency is warm and full, but never overpowering, and levels remain on an even keel throughout, keeping the vocals and instrumentals nicely balanced.

The DD 5.1 track favors the vocals a bit more, and lowers the ambient crowd noise, so the surround experience is less intense. Volume levels are a notch or two lower as well, but the sound still possesses good presence and depth. The Dolby stereo track is anemic by comparison, requiring a substantial volume boost to even begin to compete with the other audio options.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Music/Song Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese with remote access
1 Documentaries
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual
Layers Switch: 01h:07m:19s

Extra Extras:
  1. Tour Dates and Venues
Extras Review: Only the most obsessed fan will find anything of interest in Through the Looking Glass, an intensely boring, lengthy home video that follows Toto across Asia and into France during its latest tour. Clocking in at an interminable 37 minutes, the film presents unwanted and sloppily constructed behind-the-scenes glimpses of life on the road, from dinner at a Japanese restaurant to what seems like frame-by-frame coverage of an inter-group bowling competition. In between, we see the band relaxing, rehearsing, joking around with tech personnel, drinking champagne, and playing pranks. The video's rough, amateur style may be intentional, but those manning the camera succeed in making Toto's home movies even duller than our own. Apparently bass player Mike Porcaro edited the footage, widely misjudging our level of interest. Memo to Mike: Keep your day job.

Extras Grade: D

 

Final Comments

Judging by the cheering throng in Amsterdam, Toto continues to enjoy considerable renown. Yet whatever magnetism the group might still possess doesn't come through in this flat, uninteresting anniversary concert DVD. Ardent fans may well adore Toto: Live in Amsterdam, but the disc won't inspire anything more than mild nostalgia from the rest of us.

 


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